Stacey Abrams in Seattle
Stacey Abrams listens to an audience question at her April 2019 Seattle Town Hall appearance (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

One of the biggest sto­ry­lines in Demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics since the 2018 midterm elec­tions has con­cerned the future ambi­tions of Geor­gia state rep­re­sen­ta­tive and guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date, Stacey Abrams.

Representative Stacey Adams
For­mer Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Stacey Adams, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader in the Geor­gia Gen­er­al Assem­bly, explains what needs to be done to turn states in the Deep South blue (edu­cate, acti­vate, and agi­tate!) at Net­roots Nation 2014.

In 2018, Abrams bare­ly lost the guber­na­to­r­i­al race to Repub­li­can Bri­an Kemp, in a race plagued by ram­pant vot­er sup­pres­sion and dis­cred­it­ed by the fact that – as Georgia’s sit­ting Sec­re­tary of State – Kemp was super­vis­ing the race he him­self was run­ning in. After defeat, Abrams began the orga­ni­za­tion Fair Fight Action, which sued the new gov­er­nor over his han­dling of the elections.

At the begin­ning of this year, influ­en­tial Democ­rats were deter­mined to per­suade Abrams to run in 2020 against Georgia’s Sen­a­tor David Perdue.

These includ­ed pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates (Sen­a­tors Har­ris and Gilli­brand were both report­ed to have encour­aged Abrams to run), Chuck Schumer and oth­ers in the U.S. Senate’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship, and major donors to the Par­ty includ­ing close sup­port­ers of her 2018 campaign.

In May, Abrams brushed aside sug­ges­tions of a Sen­ate run, seem­ing­ly in favor of even big­ger plans; she tweet­ed that a 2020 run for the White House was “def­i­nite­ly on the table,” and reject­ed the sug­ges­tion from the Biden cam­paign of a Vice Pres­i­den­tial posi­tion say­ing, “I don’t think you run for sec­ond place…if I’m going to enter a pri­ma­ry, then I’m going to enter a primary.”

Stacey Abrams in Seattle
Stacey Abrams lis­tens to an audi­ence ques­tion at her April 2019 Seat­tle Town Hall appear­ance (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Institute)

How­ev­er, the spec­u­la­tion has at last been end­ed; Abrams will not be run­ning for high office in 2020. She made the announce­ment on Tues­day in Las Vegas while address­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

In the speech, she laid out her plan to expand and re-brand Fair Fight Action into Fair Fight 2020. The ini­tia­tive will expand from Geor­gia to 20 states in the Mid­west and South­east of the coun­try, focus­ing on state-lev­el vot­er pro­tec­tion. This is an issue close to Abrams’ heart; she lost the 2018 elec­tion by under 55,000 votes, which is almost pre­cise­ly the num­ber of new vot­er reg­is­tra­tions that Bri­an Kemp delayed in the run-up to vot­ing in one of many bla­tant acts of vot­er suppression.

Fair Fight 2020 will work with state polit­i­cal par­ties to cor­rect inac­cu­rate vot­er rolls, address short­ages of vot­ing machines and pro­vi­sion­al bal­lots, and stan­dard­ize pro­ce­dures for count­ing absen­tee ballots.

The ini­tia­tive also plans to set up state-by-state hot­lines, so that com­mu­ni­ties can report elec­tion irreg­u­lar­i­ties. The amount of invest­ment the ini­tia­tive is expect­ed to put into these efforts could be as high as $5 million.

While her deci­sion will see her increas­ing­ly lose the spot­light as the 2020 pres­i­den­tial pri­maries and gen­er­al elec­tions inevitably swal­low up nation­al news cov­er­age, Abrams’ choice may indi­cate her real goal – a re-match with Bri­an Kemp for the Governor’s Man­sion in 2022.

An orga­ni­za­tion like Fair Fight 2020 will keep Abrams in the spot­light reg­u­lar­ly, give her a large pool of polit­i­cal experts to recruit from for future cam­paigns and, most impor­tant­ly, will hope­ful­ly break down some of the egre­gious state laws that sup­pressed the vote in black and Demo­c­ra­t­ic neigh­bor­hoods in 2018.

If Stacey Abrams is play­ing the long game and aim­ing at 2022, it will be much hard­er for Bri­an Kemp to rob her of her prize a sec­ond time.

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